By on September 24, 2021

Despite the occasional media report claiming that the semiconductor shortage is nearly over, reality looks quite a bit different. Some manufacturers have managed to temporarily stabilize supply chains, even though others have continued announcing work stoppages as they run out of chips. Wait times for the electronic components have also increased by about 61 percent since the beginning of 2021. Meanwhile, a recent Kelly Blue Book survey had 48 percent of respondents saying they were going to postpone buying a new automobile until shortages end, prices come down, and they can actually find the vehicles they’re looking for. But even those that were willing to buy now expressed a surprising level of acceptance to abandon brand loyalty or their preferred body style just to get a fairer deal on an automobile.

With the United States fairing worse than other regions in regard to chip availability, the White House has been under pressure to solve the problem all year. Thus far, government strategy has focused on encouraging investments for new semiconductor production. But there’s a new gambit being proposed that would invoke a Cold War-era national security law that would force manufacturers to furnish information pertaining to semiconductor supply lines and chip sales.  (Read More…)

By on September 10, 2021

With the Biden administration having announced that it would start requiring companies to vaccinate employees, automakers and UAW are finding themselves in a sticky situation. Unions had previously said they wanted to hold off on endorsing or opposing mandatory vaccinations until after they discussed things with the industry and their own members. Considering Joe Biden said he wouldn’t make vaccines mandatory less than 10 months ago, employers are getting caught with their pants around the proverbial ankles.

Automakers had previously been surveying white-collar workers to see what they wanted to do while upping on-site COVID restrictions, but operating under the impression that any hard decisions were likely a long way off and left entirely to their discretion. Now the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning a new standard that requires all employers with 100 (or more) employees to guarantee their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on a minimum weekly basis.  (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2021

Yaya Ernst/Shutterstock.com

Washington, D.C. has long been thought of as a “swamp” of shady dealings, regardless of what party is in charge of the White House and/or Congress at any given time.

The previous president even promised to “drain the swamp,” though his critics would argue he made it swampier than ever.

(Read More…)

By on June 1, 2021

General Motors has a long and illustrious history of receiving government favors, with 2021 likely to continue the trend. Having recently seen its request to have federal EV tax credits reset approved by the Senate Finance Committee, GM-owned Cruise is now seeking to double down by asking regulators to scale back restrictions on autonomous vehicle testing. With practically every automaker simultaneously requesting government hookups on a weekly basis, it’s hardly surprising to see this.

What is unique is the rationales given for government help and it’s often the only way to measure their merit. While most claims tend to boil down to “we need more money,” Cruise wants regulators to get out of the way so the United States can become more competitive against China’s AV programs and is hardly the first company to make such a suggestion.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2021

Pope Lamborghini

After clandestine meetings with Pope Francis, Fisker is reportedly going to develop an electric Popemobile — a term the Vatican has repeatedly asked everyone to stop using. Due to arrive next year, the vehicle is supposed to be a heavily modified version of the brand’s upcoming electric Ocean crossover.

Pope Francis has long been presenting himself as a surface-level environmentalist with absolutely terrible taste in automobiles. He added two Toyota Mirais to the Status Civitatis Vaticanae garage in 2020 while predictably flipping a Lamborghini Huracán (built specifically for him by the company) in 2018. His Alleged Holiness is also said to be partial to the Fiat 500L, Nissan Frontier, and Isuzu D-Max — though he frequently rides around in locally produced customs as a way to ingratiate himself with the masses he’s visiting. Provided they’ve met the needs of the trip and cater specifically to the pope’s preferences, he’s not picky.  (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2021

Having noticed that Washington got a bit of publicity for vowing to ban all vehicles reliant on internal combustion after 2030, a dozen other American states decided it would be a good idea to reaffirm their own religious-like commitment to the environment by saying they too will be restricting your choice of automobiles by 2035.

The coalition of states — most of which don’t have a populace that’s dependent on automotive manufacturing for work — also formally asked the Biden administration to introduce standards that would obligate the United States to ban everything that emits smoke within the next fifteen years. Many activist groups are calling it a heroic act, though it’s difficult to recall any parables where the hero went around banning things and also represented an institutional power structure.  (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2021

Lobbyists are reportedly seeking to soften the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) now that there are some new faces in the White House. Signed in 2018, revised in 2019, and effective since 2020, the USMCA sought to restore North America’s manufacturing base with new content requirements and place the United States in a more favorable position than it held under the North American Free Trade Agreement. But industry groups are now claiming that interpretations from government agencies are gumming up the works, and accusing the U.S. of having a different interpretation from what the other nations had originally agreed upon.

“[The USCMA interpretation makes] meeting the … content provisions that much more difficult for everyone to achieve,” stated David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada.  (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2021

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 66-34 to confirm Michael Regan as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Biden campaign had signaled that it wanted to clean house following appointments from the Trump administration well before the election, noting that the EPA was of particular importance since it needs to be in line with the bold energy strategy. Regan’s role as administrator is essential since he’ll have the ability to encourage the United States to reduce emissions wherever possible.

Whereas the Trump administration sought to undo Obama-era policies it deemed untenable and soften the power of highly influential independent executive agencies, Biden and company are bent on restoring those policies while strengthening some of its own. Regan (44) is presumed to pursue greenhouse gas emissions reductions for automobiles, powerplants, and oil refineries by any means available. He began his career as an environmental regulator for the EPA during the Clinton administration, stayed on through the Bush years, and later joined the Environmental Defense Fund — a nonprofit environmental advocacy group that frequently partners with multinational companies to create “market-driven” solutions to climate change.   (Read More…)

By on March 5, 2021

On Thursday, President Joe Biden spent part of his day listening to a group of lawmakers discuss how much the United States might need to spend on fixing its horrible infrastructure. It’s an issue America has neglected through multiple administrations and has frequently been set back by partisan conflict.

Considering the White House is ruminating on how to source trillions of dollars in new infrastructure spending after the U.S. just printed $9 trillion (almost 25 percent all USD currently in circulation) for COVID relief, that’s unlikely to change. Everyone is worried about raising taxes and causing inflation during a period of economic uncertainty, or skeptical that the government will use the new funding responsibly. But our roads (among other infrastructure projects) are reaching a point where they can no longer be ignored, placing the entire country in a particularly sour pickle.  (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2021

Automakers around the globe have been issuing warnings for weeks that the semiconductor shortage will eventually result in fewer cars and leaner profitability reports. But the absent chips are affecting just about every industry producing modern connected devices, creating fears that electronic prices could skyrocket as availability dwindles. Lockdowns effectively crippled semiconductor supply lines right as demand peaked and everyone is starting to get a little worried about how it’s going to impact production in other industries.

The White House is reportedly taking steps to mitigate the issue by tasking Brian Deese (Director of the National Economic Council) and Jake Sullivan (National Security Adviser) with coming up with a solution. It’s also asking embassies to assist chip suppliers around the world however possible and hopefully suss out a way to stop the global shortage. Meanwhile, Deese and Sullivan will be focusing the brunt of their efforts on Taiwan.

(Read More…)

By on February 2, 2021

The Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation (CSAR) is officially withdrawing from a lawsuit between California and federal authorities over the coastal state’s ability to establish its own emissions standards. California leadership had vowed to ignore the Trump administration’s proposed rollback and began making binding side deals with automakers (specifically BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Honda) committed to adhering to the aggressive limits established under President Obama. Unfortunately, this ran the risk of undermining the revised national standards penned shortly after the United States became energy independent. It also set up the CSAR to embrace any entity that had views conflicting with California Air Resources Board.

Federal concerns were that the Golden State setting its own targets would butt heads with the relaxed national benchmarks and ultimately divide the U.S. market and may even influence the types of vehicles that were manufactured for all of North America. But the issue became moot once President Biden broke the record for executive orders by signing 22 in his first week. Predictably, the brunt of these were designed to instantly undo any actions taken throughout the duration of the Trump administration and included one directing the Department of Transportation and EPA to reconsider the 2019 decision to remove California’s authority to limit tailpipe emissions by April and revise the fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles by summer.

(Read More…)

By on August 20, 2020

Goodyear found itself in a hornet’s nest this week, following a leaked diversity training slideshow that included a ban on Make America Great Again (MAGA) attire and sentiments. Incoming Goodyear employees at its plant in Topeka, Kansas, were allegedly warned about inappropriate political displays.

While “Black Lives Matter” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride” were considered acceptable, “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” “MAGA Attire” and “Political Affiliated Slogans or Material” were listed in the unacceptable section.

The leak quickly garnered ire from President Trump as it circulated around the internet, who used social media to effectively support the preexisting campaign to boycott the company’s tires — adding that he would make sure Goodyear rubber is removed from the presidential limousine, posthaste. As you might have expected, this kicked up a media storm that brought more attention to the boycott Goodyear never wanted, while also placing it the center of a political fracas. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2020

Image: GM

One should never pay too close attention to social media, but sadly, that’s where a lot of diplomacy takes place these days. Especially today.

Since dawn broke over the nation Friday, President Donald Trump has chastised General Motors and Ford for their perceived foot-dragging in getting much-needed ventilators into production, urging them to pick up the pace and suggesting that he might invoke the Defense Production Act — a wartime measure aimed at aligning industrial output with America’s immediate defense needs. In this case, the enemy is microscopic, but packs a punch.

We’re already on it, Ford and GM replied. (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2019

One of the issues underpinning the gas war has been an inability for either side to compromise. Initially, it was the current administration complaining about California wanting special treatment. But the coastal state was quick to return fire, claiming that the White House never offered a valid compromise.

Eventually California extended an olive branch by suggesting it would postpone existing fuel economy mandates by one year, while attempting to lock automakers in via written commitments. But federal regulators said a singular national standard was needed, suggesting California had overstepped its authority by trying to rope in manufacturers.

However, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler came back this fall with claims of a revised plan that could actually be more stringent than originally presumed. While still a rollback, the new draft was said to close several loopholes the industry could use to continue their polluting ways. “In some of the out years, we’re actually more restrictive on CO2 emissions than the Obama proposal was,” Wheeler said.

New reports now suggest the EPA’s words are more than just noise. (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2019

The Trump administration has reportedly expressed an interest in deciding where and how automotive manufacturers do their business if they want to secure duty-free deals under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) that’s positioned to replace NAFTA. According to Bloomberg, there’s currently a discussion taking place between administration officials, congressional staff, and domestic and foreign automakers regarding the context of the legislation that lawmakers will ultimately have to vote on. The White House is said to want highly specific language that would allow it to select production rules unilaterally.

Considering how messy things have gotten with China, it could be useful to have extremely clear trade language and some direct oversight of businesses with global interests. But critics are worried the strategy could bring U.S. trade policy closer to the rigid policies already in place in the People’s Republic — a country America has attempted to distance itself from due to its ludicrous levels of government intervention.

The real fear is that the government could use this to give one manufacturer better treatment than another — cutting it a sweet deal for building in a politically advantageous area, for example. While plausible, we can’t confirm something that’s largely speculative.  (Read More…)

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